Here are some of my favorite desserts! All, except the 5 Spice Sesame Orange Fritters are gluten free. I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving!
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Here are some of my favorite desserts! All, except the 5 Spice Sesame Orange Fritters are gluten free. I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving!
Monday, November 25, 2013
So, recently, The Boyfriend and I were captivated by a commercial for Del Monte canned green beans. You see, both of us remember canned green beans as mushy and definitely not bright green and beautiful like the commercial portrayed. Could they have really changed that much?
Here's the commercial:
Notice the long green beans, bright and firm looking, even after BOILING!
Well, I figured I would buy a can, especially in light of my $25 Dollar Tree Challenge, where I was tempted to buy some. (I opted for 16 oz. of broccoli and cauliflower florets instead.)
Well, let me tell you. THE DEL MONTE CANNED GREEN BEANS ARE EXACTLY THE WAY I REMEMBER THEM!
I don't remember the last time I had canned green beans, but they tasted exactly the same. I actually have fond memories of canned green beans because my grandmother used to feed them to me. She also fed me Kraft Mac and Cheese, Spaghettios, White Bread with American Cheese and Miracle Whip, Instant Mashed Potatoes and frozen Peach Pie!
She was not the cook in the family! Taking a bite of these green beans conjured up a nice little piece of nostalgia... I sure miss my grandma!
... but even with the lovely reminder of my grandma, I won't be buying canned green beans any time soon.
It really irritates me when companies lie so blatantly. It doesn't surprise me, but I don't like how they can get away with it.
Why can't they take freshly picked green beans,blanch them, and then can them instead of cooking them to death?
If you have access to fresh green beans, click here for my Sesame Green Beans! Simple, crisp, and delicious!
I wanted to link to some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes!
These four posts contain 12 awesome recipes:
Friday, November 22, 2013
Oh, this salad! It was so delicious. I just ate the whole thing for breakfast and wanted to share it with you guys. The flavors are intense, but come together REALLY well, for an explosion in your mouth!
This is how how I made it:
|5 Spice Tofu|
- 2 cups purple cabbage, shredded
- 2 cups kale, chopped
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
- 1 cup cilantro, chopped
- 2 tbsp Sesame Chia Dressing
- 1 tbsp golden flax meal
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 tbsp coconut bacon **
- 3 oz 5 Spice Tofu
- Sriracha/Pepper to taste
I placed everything except the bacon, tofu, Sriracha and pepper in a bowl and massaged it until the kale and cabbage started to break down, around a minute or so, then I topped it with the rest of the ingredients.
The coconut bacon is a recipe I'm developing for a project, so I can't share it, but you can google how to make it. It's super simple. Just take unsweetened coconut shreds and a mixture of tamari, liquid smoke, maple syrupe and spices and bake.
Here are some two links to more kale salads:
EAT MORE PLANTS!!
Thursday, November 21, 2013
I am not a traditional breakfast girl at all; I usually eat leftovers or salads. In fact, I feel the best when I eat around 1 cup of beans with tons of veggies, lots of spices and heat and around 100 calories of fat... that's pretty much my thing...
..but The Boyfriend likes a more traditional breakfast. I usually make him eggs and toast. The other day, he mentioned that he wouldn't mind having chili incorporated into his breakfast ... so this morning I used around 1/2 cup of chili... warmed some corn tortillas, fried two eggs and topped them with salsa, raw onions and salsa. He loved it!
I had oatmeal and grapefruit, which is rare for me, but this morning, this is what I was craving. I added chia seeds, raisins, cinnamon, and soymilk... and had 1/2 of a grapfefruit
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Nutrition Facts: (I am not including the flax since I did not buy that at the Dollar Tree)
- 260 calories
- 4 grams fat
- 42 grams carbs
- 13 grams protein
- 8 grams fiber
- 92% calcium
- 14% iron
Not a shabby small breakfast. I had an early lunch of Cajun Stew:
For the Cajun Stew:
- 1 tbs coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped
- Cayenne to taste
- 1/2 cup frozen onions and peppers
- 3 cups cooked kidney beans
- 1 can tomatoes, okra and corn,
- 1 cups marinara sauce
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup bean cooking liquid
- 1 1/2 cups leftover Rice and Beans (from the box)
- Lemon Pepper to taste
- I heat the spices in the oil and add the garlic. Cook for a minute, then add the peppers/onions and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the rest of the ingredients, cover and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes.
- Taste and adjust seasonings.
Both The Boyfriend and I enjoyed this. I had it for around 3 meals all together and he had 1 bowl of it.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Monday, November 18, 2013
GMO's, Veganism, Blogging, and My Thoughts and Reactions part 1.. the beginning of my food perspective.
|OMG, are these VEGAN/ORGANIC/GMO????? The answer is: Some of them may be and I'm OK with that!|
This is a stream of consciousness post... I have thought long and hard for a long time now about this subject and wanted to write some sort of eloquent piece with a clearly defined point of view and solutions to all of the thoughts that are swirling in my head about this issue,
but that's not me. I am not that type of writer or person. I speak from the heart, typos and all.. (and trust me, there are always typos).
My passion when it comes to food, is healthy and delicious, mostly vegan, frugal, whole foods!
If you read back from the beginning of this blog (started in 2006 when my sons were kids and I was still married) I think that comes across. I know that MOST of the readers of this blog understand my point of view. (Even though it is not clearly defined all of the time and HAS changed over the years.)
If I had a magic wand, and I could change the food system in America, (Worldwide hunger issues and food and politics are worthy of so many more posts!) I would wave it so EVERY single American had access to fresh produce, a kitchen to cook in, and the time, resources and knowledge HOW to create healthier food for themselves and their families.
I struggle with my weight as you all know. and I was raised a vegetarian from conception. I have had a few bites of meat, here and there throughout my life and I have NO desire to have any more, ever! While I am passionate about MY vegetarianism, I have to admit, that most of my life, it was because meat grossed me out. I didn't care much about animals until I was an adult and learned about factory farming.. (and I can thank the purchase of Vegan Vittles for that!... I purchased it because I heard rumors of people making cheese out of nuts!.. CRAZY!!.. I had to know more!).. I was enthralled and engrossed in the factory farming module of food production and realized, it didn't fit well with my ethics. At the time, my boys were probably 11 and 12.. I raised them vegetarian and started to transition a good portion of their diets to vegan...and that's when I started this blog!
It was such an amazing time in my life in so many ways... I connected with other foodies who loved to create! I was in awe every time I managed to swap an animal based food with a Plant-Based food...! My kids and now Ex-husband were brutal critics, and I made it my mission to create recipes that would please them. THIS IS HOW MELOMEALS WAS BORN..
.... and I have poured my heart and soul into this blog... for so many years now... and I have grown and changed along with it. Literally. Grown into a person who weighed 310+ pounds and changed in so many ways when it comes to life... Incidentally, my high weight of 310 plus was reached twice... the first time, as a vegetarian, the second time as a vegan.
See what I mean about stream of consciousness? HAHA... but I digress...
Melomeals was born from my passion on creating! It was during this time that the GMO/Organic issue started to make its' way into the blogosphere... I knew all about rBGH from years before, when I lived in Iowa. (I was raised in an cult.. and yes, another story for another time, but some of the cult members were the first frontiers of raising awareness of the GMO issue...and my cult raising is a HUGE reason why I don't just FOLLOW the herd when it comes to ANYTHING... I was raised in an all inclusive cult environment, where EVERYONE believed what was being delivered, yet, I NEVER did... and as a result, I was ex-communicated when I was 12, and I ended up in the foster care system...)
I am not stranger to Organic Foods and GMO's, but alas, that is NOT where I've been called when it comes to Food Activism.
I realized, that my True Activism, is THIS BLOG. This is the way I feel I can reach the most people to help make a change when it comes to food! I was raised so poor... when we didn't live on the Cult Grounds, there were times we didn't have a car. We didn't even have a refrigerator for a while! My mom bought an old one we used for a while, but it used to shock us every time we touched it. It was oh, so very bare inside... and part of the reason is that my mother was too proud to ask for help via the state and also, because she had an idea of only certain foods being affordable for us. Now, please, don't get me wrong, I don't blame her for this. The milk she wanted to give us was fresh from cows... and she did the bulk of the shopping at the local health food store (owned by people who were also in the cult... and they prescribed certain foods that people could and could not eat..)...
I am actually VERY grateful for my meager beginnings... because I was raised on whole food staples... they say, with many Cult Ideologies, that 80% of the knowledge is amazing knowledge, and that is what draws people in... and I believe that!.. My whole food foundation is based on how I was raised and I am so grateful for that.
I can only imagine how fat I would have gotten if I had been eating the Standard American Diet,(SAD.. and the acronym only furthers in shaming people I think when it comes to their eating.. but again, another post for another day)..
Fast forward to this blog. It has come to a point where everything I post here and especially on FACEBOOK, is up for scrutiny. I am actually feeling nervous to post things.. because no matter what I do, someone will bring up some negative opinion about something.. and I'm sure they aren't even aware of how it sounds... but when you are asked the same questions over and over and over and judged by certain types... it gets old.. very old... and It makes me feel like I am wasting my time and also like my PASSION, my WORK.. is being devalued by people who just like to sit behind a computer screen and judge. Now, I KNOW that this is not the intent of many, but after receiving so many comments and emails that want to "enlighten", "argue", "enlist" or otherwise want to just pick apart the content I am providing, I don't really want to continue.
The recipes I post... I do with hesitation because of all of this.... and I don't like feeling this way.
My passion: Healthy and delicious, mostly vegan, frugal, whole foods!
Recently, my $25 Dollar Tree Challenge has come under scrutiny from people. I have received emails and comments on Facebook that miss the point entirely.... and I am at a loss how communicate the message I feel so passionately about!... This post is the first step and I will continue writing more... because that is the only option I feel I have. Otherwise, I will just quit blogging, which I almost did after my foot surgery.. I want this blog to be something the feeds ME as well as YOU... and it hasn't been for a while... and I have to take responsibility for the fact that I have not been effective in communicating how I really feel about things...
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
I have a backlog of pics and recipes to put up here for the Dollar Tree Challenge, but wanted to share our dinner tonight. This spicy, savory curry is a spin on Chana Masala.. I used canned marinara sauce as the base of the curry sauce, which worked out really well. I realize that some of the spices I used, most people won't have on hand, but I will include them in the recipe.
Chana Masala Veggie Curry
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 2 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp powdered ginger (fresh would be soo much better and I'd use 2 tbsp)
- 1 tsp cayenne or less if you don't like heat
- 1/2 cup frozen peppers and onions
- 1 cup frozen cauliflower (I picked out the cauliflower from a broccoli cauliflower mix)
- 15 oz can chickpeas
- 1 cup frozen peas and carrots
- 3 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1/2 cup water
- 2/3 cup marinara sauce
- 1 tbsp vinegar
- Salt/Pepper to taste
- Over medium heat, add the oil and spices and toast the spices for 20 seconds.
- Add the frozen peppers and onions, cauliflower and the can of chickpeas, including their liquid along with 1/2 cup water and marinara sauce.
- Cover and bring to a simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add the pressed garlic and stir in vinegar. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
I have a bunch of thoughts about poverty, food deserts, nutrition, food policing, privilege and so much more that I will get around to writing.. I have very strong opinions and have been a little nervous to share what I really think, but if I am going to continue to blog here, I need to start being more authentic about my beliefs and my passions and stop caring if I offend people. Because I really, am sick and tired of pretending I don't hold the opinions I do.
Wednesday, November 06, 2013
So, day 2 was good. I did some cooking, so I could eat something more than soup. I've got a lot going on in the next 5 days or so. Tomorrow, I'm going to NH to see my son and my dog, and then we are going out of town on Friday to NJ for a family event for The Boyfriend. So.... there will be a break in the 7 days of eats.
Breakfast: Last of the Broccoli Soup
Lunch: Cajun Red Bean and Rice Loaf, Roasted Broccoli (this was really yummy.. I love roasted broccoli. It is totally possible to roast frozen veggies!)
Dinner: Roasted Veggie Pasta with Beans and Aioli/Chipotle Sauce:
Breakfast this morning was the last of the Minestrone soup, sans pasta.
So, here is what I have in the fridge cooked and waiting:
- 1 1/2 cup baked beans
- Around 1 cup of Broccoli Sauce (for pasta)
- around 2-3 cups of cooked pasta (from the first box of pasta I bought)
- around 2 cups of cooked Red Beans and Rice (From a box)
I am pressure cooking my second pound of kidney beans.
What I have left:
- cauliflower from 1 bag of frozen broccoli-cauliflower
- 2 lbs kidney beans (I'm cooking one as I'm writing this)
- 1 box Fiber Pasta
- 2 26 oz cans Mushroom Marinara
- 2 lbs frozen broccoli cauliflower
- part of a bag of frozen peas and carrots
- part of a bag (over half) of frozen peppers and onions
- canned okra, tomatoes and corn
- jar roasted red peppers
- canned chickpeas
- 20 oz. frozen blueberries
Meals I'm planning:
- Pasta with Marinara, Beans and Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower
- Baked Beans and Pasta with Broccoli Sauce (probably for lunch today)
- Indian Spiced Chicipeas, Broccoli and Cauliflower
- Blueberry Smoothies
- Cajun Stew with Okra, Corn, Tomatoes, Red Beans and Rice
This is all subject to change, of course, given my mood.. but that's what I see when I look at what I have.
I will not be using the rest of the Progresso Fire Roasted Tomato Sauce. I found it disgusting. I used it in my BBQ Sauce, Minestrone and Broccoli Soup. Bleh. Not to mention, I spent $26 instead of $25 and had to shave a dollar off of something.
Tuesday, November 05, 2013
I cooked a bit this morning and wanted to give you guys a preview of some of the $25 Dollar Tree Challege recipes I will be sharing in the next couple of days.
To remind you, here is what I bought for $25.
Upcoming Recipes (starting at top left)
- Soy Milk - Flax Aioli
- Cajun Red Bean and Rice Loaf with BBQ Sauce and Roasted Broccoli
- Broccoli Sauce for Pasta (I'm going to serve this with a side of baked beans, which are not pictured)
Day 1 Meals:
- Breakfast: Savory Broccoli-Cauliflower Soup
- Lunch: Minestrone
- Dinner: Minestrone
I wasn't hungry at all. I did get bored eating Minestrone.. but didn't feel like cooking anything else. I definitely wish I could have found brown rice and/or oatmeal. It would give me SO many more options.
Monday, November 04, 2013
|Savory Broccoli-Cauliflower Soup|
This is the first recipe I've made for my $25 Dollar Tree Challenge. It's a savory broccoli soup with cheesy notes. This makes two big servings or 4 smaller servings and I had a big bowl for breakfast.
- ½ tsp smoked paprika or chipotle powder
- 16 oz frozen broccoli-cauliflower mix
- 1 cup cooked kidney beans
- 2 cups soy milk
- ½ cup frozen peppers and onions
- ½ cup fire roasted tomato Recipe Starter **SEE NOTE**
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp prepared mustard
- Salt/Pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp. coconut oil
- Combine everything together except the salt/pepper and coconut oil in a pan on the stove, cover and bring to a strong simmer for 15 minutes. Take out a couple cauliflower florets if desired, then blend. Taste and adjust seasoning and stir in coconut oil.
- Yield: 2 large portions.
*NOTE*- I HATE this sauce, I only included it in the recipe because it is what I used. Please use salsa or spaghetti sauce instead, or even canned tomatoes.
Sunday, November 03, 2013
So, the other day I was in the Dollar Tree and I noticed what a great selection of food they had. I was reminded of when I ate my vegan diet for $3.33 a day for several years. I did it out of necessity then, due to being laid off from my job. Even though it was difficult, I started with a very full pantry, a working kitchen complete with a vita mix, food processor, stove, fridge, oven, dehydrator and all the gadgets that make preparing food easy. I also had extensive cooking knowledge since I am a Vegetarian Chef. I also had access to a variety of stores and transportation
But, the reality is, that so many people are not so lucky. They have a budget like that, but do not have access to stores, transportation or working kitchens with all the luxuries I had.
Last year, I lived in Roxbury, MA, and while I was not in a food dessert, it was not exactly easy to get to the grocery store without a car. The nearest grocery store was around 1.2 miles away and the prices weren't great. There were lots of small stores around and a liquor store (complete with drug dealers and prostitutes who hung out in front of it) around the corner, and they sold some grocery items, but there was not a good selection of the foods I eat and the prices were high. I walked all the time then and it was easy for me, as a single person, to walk by Tropical Foods on my way home from work, or stop in Chinatown to get veggies or Trader Joes.. (because I was walking 6 miles each way to and from work).. but I could not have done that if I had kids at home who needed to be fed, helped with homework and all that jazz. I even found it difficult to keep food stocked in my house and found myself paying way too much money for things at the closer stores.
I was thinking all of this as I was wandering the aisles of the Dollar Tree in Randolph, MA on Thursday and I know there are so many people out there who have a very limited budget, so I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could eat a mostly vegan, whole food diet from Dollar Tree.
I wish I had just bought the food that day, because when I went back today, they had been almost wiped out of food! No oatmeal, no brown rice, no whole grain pasta. I decided to make due with what they have, because that's the point of the challenge.
I wasn't thrilled with the Barilla pasta for a couple reasons. First, it's not whole grain, and second.. not sure I'm into supporting their views on "family." .. But, it was either the High Fiber pasta or plain white pasta and this a healthier option with 6 grams of fiber per serving. vs. 2 in the plain pasta.
This store has no fresh produce, so I relied on frozen. I ended up spending $26 instead of $25, so I will probably not use an item on the list. Here is the receipt.
I also wasn't thrilled with the red beans and rice, but figured it was a better option than instant mashed potatoes or frozen potatoes with lots of hydrogenated oils.. Also, the spaghetti sauce has sugar in it. So this is not 100% "perfect", but it's a hell of a lot better than Ramen Noodles and Mac and Cheese, which so many people think they need to eat if they don't have much money.
This is what I got:
- Red Beans and Rice
- 3 pounds dried kidney beans
- 2 cans Mushroom Marinara
- 4 cans Progresso Fire Roasted Tomato Sauce with herbs and spices. (I got these for $.50 each and they each contain a small amount of dairy)
- 2 cans Tomatoes, Okra and Corn
- 1 15 oz can Chickpeas
- 4 lbs frozen broccoli and cauliflower florets
- 2 lbs frozen mixed peppers and onions
- 12 oz frozen peas and carrots
- 2 quarts organic Westsoy Plain Soymilk
- 20 oz frozen blueberries
- 2 packages Barilla High Fiber Pasta
- Jarred Roasted Red Pepper
- Jarred Garlic
As I said before, I'm bummed I didn't get any oatmeal or brown rice. I also wanted to get some sunflower seeds and sauerkraut to make seed cheese, but it is what it is.
The pantry items I am allowing myself are:
- soy sauce
- hot sauce
- flax meal
I will also probably use some fresh parsley I have on hand for garnish purposes for photography.. because I am anal like that.
I am going to Portsmouth for one day this week to see my son, and then on Friday evening, we are going to NJ for The Boyfriend's Grandmothers' birthday. So Friday Evening and all day Saturday I will be not eating at home, but I will resume once I get back. I plan on eating this food for 7 days, and feeding The Boyfriend around 1 meal per day from it.
For those of you who want to lecture me on GMOS, food from China or this or that horrific ingredient I'm consuming.. SAVE YOUR BREATH. Instead, why don't you take on a $25 Dollar Store Challenge of your own and show the world how much better YOU can do it! If I had gone to Market Basket, I would have bought lots of fresh produce, but Market Basked is 8 miles from home and the Dollar Store is a walkable store for many people in the neighborhood it serves.
.. and if you would never dream of such a thing, then maybe stop and watch A PLACE AT THE TABLE (available on Netflix) and educate yourself about the DESPERATE situation so many Americans go through on a daily basis. Check your privilege at the door and practice empathy. Seriously.